Craven Cottage is the name of a football stadium located in Fulham, London, and has been the home ground of the association football team Fulham F.C. since 1896. After major refurbishment work was carried out in 2004, the ground’s capacity has increased gradually from 22,000 to its current capacity of 25,700. Fulham recorded four record attendances in the 2009?2010 season, in their 0?1 loss to Arsenal and their 3?1, 3?0 and 2?1 victories over Liverpool, Manchester United and Hamburg SV respectively, each of which drew full capacity crowds.
It is located next to Bishop’s Park on the banks of the River Thames. ‘Crave Cottage’ was originally a royal hunting lodge and has history dating back over 300 years. The stadium has been used by the Australian national football team for some friendly matches due to a large expatriate population living in England (mainly in London). The Republic of Ireland national football team also played two games at the venue during the construction of the Aviva Stadium.
The original ‘Cottage’ was built in 1780, by William Craven, the sixth Baron Craven and was located on the centre circle of the pitch. At the time, the surrounding areas were woods which made up part of Anne Boleyn’s hunting grounds. Several other sports may have taken place here, such as lawn bowls, croquet and possibly a version of the Aztec game called ‘tlachtli’ (scoring a ball through a hoop using your hips). This game is thought to be a distant cousin of association football and is arguably one of the earliest codes of organised football.
The Cottage was lived in by Edward Bulwer-Lytton (who wrote The Last Days of Pompeii) and other somewhat notable (and moneyed) persons until it was destroyed by fire in May 1888. Many rumours persist among Fulham fans of past tenants of Craven Cottage. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jeremy Bentham, Florence Nightingale and even Queen Victoria are reputed to have stayed there, although there is no real evidence for this. Following the fire, the site was abandoned. Fulham had had 8 previous grounds before settling in at Craven Cottage for good. Therefore, The Cottagers have had 10 grounds overall ( including a temporary stay at Loftus Road), meaning that only their former ‘landlords’ and rivals QPR have had more home grounds in British football. Of particular note, was Ranelagh House, Fulham’s palatial home from 1886?1888.